Monday, December 22, 2008

Mana Pools – Zambezi River

I have been to many National Parks in Africa but the best for me was Mana Pools. This place was seriously wild and the animals took priority. It was the only park I ever visited where you were allowed to do ‘walkabouts’, if you were seriously deranged enough to try it on your own.

I did many with a ranger that did Safari trips down there by the name of Steve Pope, owner of Chipembere Safaris. In fact, when I Googled his name, it appears the guy is still in business. I and my Ex became quite good friends with him and his family and often stayed with them in their home on Kariba heights.

Everything about Mana was very ‘un-commercial’. There were no luxury lodges (this is ’84 - ’94 ) and Steve was restricted to a maximum of three weeks at any one time in the campsite. This ‘campsite’ had no fence and the animals wandered in and out at will. The bringing of fruit, especially oranges, was strictly forbidden, as it made the elephants go crazy trying to get them.

The place was or maybe still is, one massive adrenalin rush. On one of his canoe trips, we woke up to have buffalos wandering between our cots. On a walkabout we had to do a runner from a herd of elephants. One night I almost walked straight into a Jumbo whilst going to the toilet.

But the night of the lions really was a highlight. It had kicked off one evening with the most goddamn din coming from the river, a mere 50 odd meters from the camp. The next day we discovered a wounded buffalo taking shelter in the river. Steve quickly explained the scenario. A pride of lions had attacked the buffalo who had managed to ‘save’ itself by getting into the Zambezi. However it was obviously badly wounded and he reckoned that if the crocodiles don’t get him, the lions would be back that evening.

Just for fun it was decided to go and have a walkabout to look for said lions. I didn’t like this idea, so cleverly hung back from the rest of the tourists whom seemed eager to become Shumba’s lunch. After about an hour we found them in a patch of vlei grass. Hah-ha, I have never seen so many people obey the instruction ‘Don’t run, walk slowly backwards’, this being said whilst rifles are being cocked, legging it faster than Speedy Gonzales on speed.

That night, our little group which consisted of 90% Quantas Air crew, a brilliant group of laid-back Aussies on their one flight in, one week off trip, were in their usual state of being well stoned and drunk, when the lions came back for their dinner. I wasn’t in much of a clever way either, but Steve managed to get the Land-Cruiser parked in such a way that it created enough illumination for us to watch the lions eat the buffalo alive! The picture isn’t too sharp due to the fact I wasn’t either.

Finally, from a canoe, I took this shot the next day of a lioness having some breakfast from the rest of the buffalo.

Here is a good link about Safaris at Mana Pools.


Albert A Rasch said...


Beautiful shots! Those must have been the days.

Its a shame things haven't worked out the way they should have. I wonder what will happen next? Will it ever get better...

Sorry for the melancholy mood but seeing the pics, the landscape, the animals, and your description of the socializing, (albeit you make it sound that there was quite a bit of "partying" lol), it comes through the writing that you are reminiscing... and miss it terribly.

I know I would too.

I wish you and your family a very merry Christmas; let the New Year bring you and yours peace, prosperity, and good health!

Albert A Rasch
The Rasch Outdoor Chronicles
Proud Member of Outdoor Bloggers Summit
Southeast Regional OBS Coordinator

Anonymous said...

Part of my childhood. Marvellous wildlife, wonderful land.
Camped at Mana pools in front of the front line in the '70's
Caravan on the shore of the Zambezi. Magic for about a week.
One night I woke up to a storm, no, it was elephant jostling for the berries of the trees we parked under. You haven't lived till you have spent the night s itting in an elephant feast.

Some days later we came across an elephant massacre.
A scene from hell. Maybe 100 elephant, all sizes, shot (to help conserve them you understand, otherwise they may have starved!!)with the bush burned all around and rangers cutting the tusks. Not my first argument with authority.

Chased by elephant(again) so many zebra, impala, warthog, termite mansions, so rich in vibrant life.
The only problem with this planet is still us.
Lived all over the world, still think of this part of Africa as my special home.

Thanks you.